(Reuters) - Not even Usain Bolt could overcome a big American lead as the U.S. men sprinted to a convincing victory over Jamaica in the 4x100 meters relay at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau on Saturday.
Mike Rodgers, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay powered the Americans to a five-meter advantage through three legs of the highly anticipated race and Ryan Bailey brought the team home in 37.38 seconds.
Bolt, who had missed last year’s inaugural World Relays, made up ground on Bailey in their anchor leg but could not close the gap as Jamaica, running their 2013 world championship team, finished second in 37.68.
The Americans’ time equaled the seventh-fastest ever over the distance as all eight teams in the final, including third-placed Japan, earned automatic qualifying spots for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The victory highlighted a sparkling night for U.S. athletes, who also set a world record in the women’s distance medley and took top honors in the men’s 4x800m relay.
Shannon Rowbury anchored the U.S. women home in 10 minutes, 36.50 seconds in the medley with strong support from Treniere Moser, Sanya Richards-Ross and Ajee Wilson.
The relay, which has just became a world record event, consists of legs of 1,200, 400, 800 and 1,600m. Kenya were second and Poland third.
Robby Andrews led the U.S. men to a championship record 7:04.84 in the 4x800 with Poland second and Australia third.
Misfortune struck the Americans in the other final, the women’s 4x200, when Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix collided.
Nigeria claimed the victory in 1:30.52 with Jamaica second after the Bahamas were disqualified.
The relays conclude on Sunday with Bolt likely getting a second chance to beat the Americans in the 4x200m.
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Wilson, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford